The universe needs an explanation for its existence. It would need an explanation even if it had always existed, but how much more obvious is the need when we realize the universe has existed for only a finite time (approximately 13.8 billion years).
I argued that the best explanation is a necessarily existent agent cause. Agent causes (you and I included) have this unique ability to initiate new states of affairs. I, for instance, have the ability to initiate the existence of a brilliant new article at www.randalrauser.com on a regular basis. So there is nothing especially contentious about invoking an agent cause to explain the universe’s origination. We are very familiar with agent causes and what they do since we are agent causes ourselves.
Ray is not happy about this proposal so he has countenanced some rather exotic alternative explanations over the last few days.
Infinite regress of event causes: To begin with, Ray has suggested an infinite regress of prior event causes might have brought the universe into being. This despite the fact that there is no evidence of an actually infinite series of event causes causing anything ever.
Self-caused: Ray then broached the possiblity of self-causation. Maybe the universe was clever enough to hop around prior to its own existence and bang itself into being. Right. And people find the doctrine of one God in three persons tough to swallow.
Necessarily existent: More recently Ray has suggested that the universe itself exists of necessity, even if its component parts are in various contingent arrangements. And what reason is there to think that this universe of finite age itself exists eternally of necessity? Good luck with that.
The cynic in me feels like I’m listening to Glenn Beck talking about Obama: He’s a socialist, a Muslim, pretty much anything but a good president.
Infinite regress? Self-caused? Necessarily existent? What is the justification for this dizzying parade of truly stupendous suggestions? Well at first blush it would seem to be the desire to have any explanation but an agent cause. Not sure why that is. The argument hasn’t yet stipulated that the agent cause which brought the universe into existence requires tithing or demands Victorian morality.
So what is the unstated prejudice against agent causes?